Fiji went down gallantly 6-3 to the Solomon Islands in their opening match of the OFC Beach Soccer Nations Cup in Tahiti today.
The Jerry Sam coached side played with a lot of guts and determination against the more superior and experienced opponents who had the services of 5-time World Cup attendee James Naka.
An own goal by Gabriel Matanisiga in the opening minute gave the Bilikiki Boys a 1-0 lead before youngster Rajneel Singh slammed in the leveller for the Fijians as the two sides rested 1-1 after end of the first period.
Fiji went ahead in the opening minute of the second period as Madhwan Goundar direct kick was palmed away by goalkeeper Abraham Bird and the resulting corner kick from Tevita Waranaivalu was tapped in by Matanisiga.
The Solomon Islanders picked their game and managed to net three more goals through Thomas Amasia, Max Fa’ari, Albert Bobby and Naka to lead 5-2 despite a courageous display in goal by captain Simione Tamanisau.
Amasia put the Solomon Islands further up early in the third and final period of the match but the hardworking Fijians did not give up and got another goal from a set-piece.
A Waranaivalu corner kick was headed into the roof of the net by Lami rep Ravneet Pal to bring some respect to the final score-line.
Fiji meets Tonga in its second match at 11.45am tomorrow.